On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a historic decision that will assure vastly improved access to health care for Americans. By upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the court has freed state and federal governments to expand health insurance coverage to more than 30 million people. This extraordinary reform will be achieved by mandating that everyone either carry insurance or pay a fine, prohibiting insurers from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions, establishing markets for the purchase of insurance, and expanding subsidies and Medicaid eligibility for those who cannot afford to purchase insurance.
The significance of the ACA for women is enormous. In a recently published report, “Through the Lens of Equality: Eliminating Sex Bias to Improve the Health of Pennsylvania’s Women,” the Women’s Law Project (WLP) examines the profound impact of persistent societal bias and discrimination on women’s health. Women and girls are disproportionately subjected to sexual and intimate partner violence and discrimination in their homes, schools, workplaces and the health care system. They bear the brunt of caregiving responsibilities and poverty. They are also denied essential reproductive health care and are subjected to discrimination in insurance coverage. As a consequence, their physical and mental health suffers and their need for health care, which has been unfairly denied to them, is great.
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